I'm backing off my prediction that the Texas Rangers will repeat as AL West champions for now, at least until we find out when Yu Darvish will be back -- assuming he is. Just three starts into his return from Tommy John surgery, he has been placed back on the disabled list with discomfort in his neck and pitching shoulder. Needless to say, that sounds ominous, but an MRI on Monday has revealed nothing major. Even when a team handles everything right with a guy regarding TJS, you just never know. On the bright side, the Rangers were able to activate outfielder Shin-Soo Choo off the DL. And the second-place team in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners, are without their ace, Felix Hernandez, likely until after the All-Star break with a calf injury. The Rangers are -210 favorites at BetOnline to win the division with Seattle at +225. This next month or so is also really the best time for disappointing Houston (+650) to get closer.
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Yankees at Rockies (+105, 11.5)
This is only the fourth series in Yankees history that they visit the Rockies. This 3:10 p.m. ET matinee is televised nationally by the MLB Network and will have live betting. It's also the finale of this two-game interleague set; the Rockies head to the Bronx next week. The Yankees again will have to sit Alex Rodriguez with no designated hitter available. New York starts Ivan Nova (5-3, 4.39). The Bombers have won his past two even though Nova has allowed eight runs in 12.1 innings. Mark Reynolds has seen him more than any Rockies hitter, going 3-for-15 with two doubles. Gerardo Parra is 3-for-6. Colorado's Chad Bettis (4-5, 5.85) has not lasted more than five innings in his past four starts, giving up 21 earned runs in them and six homers. A few Yankees have seen him. Newly-signed Ike Davis is 2-for-5 off him with two doubles. Brian McCann is 0-for-1 with two walks.
Key trends: The Yankees are 11-1 in Nova's past 12 interleague starts. The Rockies are 1-5 in Bettis' past six interleague outings. The "over/under" is 5-2-1 in Bettis' past eight.
Early lean: Yankees and over.
Dodgers at Diamondbacks (+199, 7)
A 3:40 p.m. ET start. If Clayton Kershaw is on the mound, I'm going to examine the game, and the incomparable lefty is here. Kershaw (9-1, 1.52) outdueled Johnny Cueto on Friday in San Francisco, allowing two runs and five hits over eight innings with 13 strikeouts and no walks -- that's 122 Ks and 6 BBs on the season. Kershaw's career high for a season with games of at least 10 strikeouts is 13. He's already at eight in 2016. It was his sixth 10-strikeout game with no walks this season, already the most he has had in a single campaign. Kershaw has two games with at least 13 strikeouts and no walks this year. The rest of baseball has three. Kershaw hasn't faced Arizona this year, and the Snakes gave him trouble in 2015 as he was 1-1 against them with a 6.35 ERA, his highest vs. any team. Paul Goldschmidt is a career .250 hitter off him with two homers, seven RBIs and 13 strikeouts in 36 at-bats. Arizona lefty Patrick Corbin (3-5, 4.81) beat the Dodgers back on April 12, giving up a run over six innings. He is 3-4 with a 3.78 ERA in 10 games against them career. Adrian Gonzalez is 4-for-16 with a homer and six RBIs against him. Justin Turner is 5-for-13 with three RBIs.
Key trends: The Dodgers are 6-2 in Kershaw's past eight on Wednesday. The Snakes are 0-6 in Corbin's past six at home. The under is 4-0-1 in Kershaw's past five on the road. The under is 5-1 in his past six in Arizona.
Early lean: Dodgers and under.
Cubs at Nationals (-145, 7)
First pitch at 4:05 p.m. ET. The Cubs were actually slight series underdogs here for the first time in a long time; and they haven't been game underdogs very often, either, this year. The Cubs go with Jason Hammel (7-2, 2.36). He struggled some last time out, allowing three runs and eight hits in 5.2 innings against the offensively-challenged Braves. Hammel took a no-decision against the Nationals on May 7, allowing three runs in five innings. Bryce Harper is 2-for-14 with a homer off him. Wilson Ramos has two solo homers in nine at-bats. Ryan Zimmerman is a career .316 hitter off Hammel in 38 at-bats with a dinger. Washington's Stephen Strasburg beat the Phillies on Friday, allowing four runs and striking out 10. He hasn't faced the Cubs since August 2013. Strasburg vs. Kris Bryant in a matchup of former college stars and Golden Spikes Award winners (Heisman of NCAA baseball) from San Diego universities for the first time as pros? Yes please. Jason Heyward hits Strasburg well, going 14-for-34 with a homer.
Key trends: The Cubs are 2-6 in Hammel's past eight on Wednesday. The Nats are 6-0 in Strasburg's past six vs. teams with a winning record. The under is 4-1 in Hammel's past five.
Early lean: Nationals and under.
Orioles at Red Sox (TBA)
ESPN2 national TV game and will feature live betting at sportsbooks. The Birds start Tyler Wilson (2-5, 4.73). This might be his last shot to stay in the rotation after allowing five earned runs and seven hits in each of his past two starts. He has faced Boston twice this year, once in relief, and is 0-1 with a 2.79 ERA. Xander Bogaerts is 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs against him. Mookie Betts is 2-for-5 off him. David Ortiz is 0-for-3. The Red Sox counter with knuckleballer Steven Wright (7-4, 2.09), who now leads the American League in ERA. He has won four straight starts and not allowed an earned run in his past two. Wright won in Baltimore on May 30, throwing a complete game and giving up two runs and four hits. Chris Davis is 0-for-5 off Wright. So are Manny Machado and Adam Jones.
Key trends: The Orioles are 1-4 in Wilson's past five. The Sox are 4-1 in Wright's past five following a quality start in his most recent appearance. The over is 10-2-1 in Wilson's past 13. The over is 4-0 in Wright's past four at home.
Early lean: Not sure why this is TBA -- all signs point to Orioles starting Wilson. There's an outside chance it could be Kevin Gausman. Go Red Sox regardless.
Mariners at Rays (-118, 7.5)
This past offseason, the Rays sent a package built around pitcher Nathan Karns to Seattle for a package involving Logan Morrison and Brad Miller coming back. Morrison and Miller have just been so-so. It looked like the Mariners had won this deal in a big way when Karns (5-2, 4.09) was 5-1 with a 3.43 ERA. But he has been roughed up in his past two outings, not lasting five full innings in either. His control has been a problem with 10 combined walks in those two starts. This is his first look at his former teammates. The Rays go with lefty Drew Smyly (2-7, 4.94). He also has been in a funk of late, allowing 17 earned runs over 15 innings in his past three starts. The team skipped his last scheduled start to give him a mental break. Smyly lost in Seattle on May 10, allowing six runs and 10 hits over five innings. Seth Smith is 1-for-1 with a double and three RBIs against him. Kyle Seager is 3-for-8 with two RBIs. Robinson Cano is 2-for-9 with three strikeouts.
Key trends: The M's are 5-1 in Karns' past six on the road. The Rays are 1-4 in Smyly's past five at home. The over is 5-0-1 in Karns' past six. The over is 6-0-1 in Smyly's past seven.
Early lean: Mariners and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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